WPS and the WDNR: A Partnership
Since 1941, WPS has partnered with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to improve fisheries at the Peshtigo Dam. At first, we focused stocking the area with walleye. Today, our focus is lake sturgeon. We also partner to protect the spawning of muskies, white suckers and walleye. In addition, WPS, WDNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service work to control the sea lamprey population.
The lake sturgeon is an ancient species. It first appeared about 100 million years ago. That's around the time the dinosaurs became extinct. The lake sturgeon is a freshwater giant. It can reach up to 195 pounds and more than 9 feet long. Lake sturgeons live for a very long time. The oldest documented lake sturgeon in Wisconsin was 82 years old.
As seen in this video, lake sturgeon travel to their spawning grounds between mid-April and early May each year. They swim upstream from the bay of Green Bay. Lake sturgeon are unique because the females spawn every 4 to 6 years. In comparison, the males generally spawn every other year. Most species of fish in Wisconsin spawn every year.
Lake sturgeon spawn in shallow rocky areas. They favor spots like the area below the Peshtigo Dam. Large numbers of lake sturgeon come to spawn below the dam each year. Hundreds of people come to the dam to view the fish as they spawn.
We help the WDNR collect important information from lake sturgeon. This information includes the length, weight and gender of the fish. We also place a tag under the skin of the lake sturgeon. This way, the WDNR can follow the fish as they migrate.
We also work with the WDNR to make sure that Peshtigo Dam water flows are good for Lake Sturgeon during spawning season. Water levels are lowered so that biologists can collect eggs. Then they move the eggs to safe fisheries. This will help to grow the lake sturgeon population.
These three-to-four foot muskies just got done with their annual spring spawning below the Peshtigo Dam.
Stocking programs for this sought after fish have been going on for 20 years. The WDNR, local angler organizations and WPS stock muskies in the bay of Green Bay. The fish then head up the Peshtigo River to spawn in mid-April to mid-May.
Stocking has helped Wisconsin become a world-class musky fishery. The musky was named the official state fish in 1955.
White suckers and walleye
We captured these white suckers and walleyes on our fish cam at the Peshtigo Dam. The fish swim upstream from the bay of Green Bay each spring to spawn. After spawning, they swim back to the bay for the rest of the year.
We partner with the WDNR to provide refuge for fish during critical times like spawning. The WDNR puts up signs that close fishing just below the dam and down the river. WPS provides a spectacular viewing area to watch the fish.
A WPS employee holds up a sea lamprey.
WPS, WDNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service also work to control the sea lamprey population. Sea lampreys are caught at the Peshtigo Dam as part of an annual population assessment program. Approximately 2,800 sea lampreys are caught each year. The lampreys prey on game fish in Lake Michigan. Then they travel upstream to spawn in the Peshtigo and Menominee rivers.